One of the things we spend a lot of time doing at Ticking Mind is educating teachers on how they can move past TEEL (topic sentence, evidence, example and link) or any other simile paragraph-acronym-recipes (such as PEE, PEEL, TREE, etc…). TEEL and all of its like-minded acronym friends are a handy tool for initially introducing students to the contents of a paragraph, but the acronyms tend to result in students writing out things in a paragraph as if they are constructing a list of statements rather than composing a series of connected sentences. So what can you do instead? One thing to consider with persuasive writing is modelling different paragraph structures. Since effective persuasive writing is essentially creative in nature, good persuasive pieces will often employ a range of structures throughout the piece. Here are some structures we can model for students (download here: Persuasive paragraphs examples and structures):
Outcome and cause:
By 2050 there will be more plastic bags in our oceans than there are fish. These bags will come from our supermarkets, where we thoughtlessly take them rather than use reusable bags. These bags will come from our beaches and drains where they have been left by a society of litterers. And these bags will come from our cities which are overrun and overburdened by too much consumption and too little thought about reducing our packaging.
Question and answer:
Why is it that so much plastic waste pours into our seas? The answer is staring us in the face at supermarket checkouts, where we needlessly consume plastic bags by the million each day without any plan for how we will recycle them. These plastic bags are consumed thoughtlessly and then discarded thoughtlessly – left to go down the drain, thrown out the car window, tossed into the air or left on the street. People need to care about what they consume and care about what they do with it.
Claim and rebuttal:
Some people claim that we can’t suddenly do without plastic bags because they’re necessary for shops and shoppers. But the thing about us humans is that we’re great at adapting. Take away plastic bags from supermarkets and we’ll soon remember to bring our own to carry home shopping. It’ll become an instinct like putting on your seatbelt (everyone complained we shouldn’t have to do that before it became law), or putting on your bike helmet (people complained about that, too) or walking down a pedestrian mall where cars can longer go. Before you know it, we’ll be saying to ourselves: Remember when supermarkets gave out plastic bags, how stupid was that!
Build up / spiral up:
Each day, each of our cities creates thousands of tons of plastic waste which we cannot recycle and which we do not collect and store. Around the country, we cumulatively poor millions of tons of waste literally down our drains and out to the sea where they clog our sea beds, sicken our waterways and strangle our water animals. And around the world, each day sees billions of tons of waste poured into the ocean, so that soon there will be more plastic bags in the seas than there will fish.